Bmi says it is adamant it will not offer any of its existing London Heathrow slots to airlines eager to take advantage of the EU-US Open Skies treaty.
Speaking to ABTN at the launch of its revamped Business and Premium Economy cabins in Manchester this afternoon (3 October), bmi deputy CEO, Tim Bye insisted the slots would not be put onto the market.
Following the much-trumpeted liberalisation deal, there has been a stampede of airlines, particularly US, knocking at Heathrow”s door, but bmi says it is not interested in selling any further slots at the UK”s premier gateway.
”We will not be trading any slots to anybody ” for the US or for any other purpose,” he said.
Bmi has put back any plans to launch transatlantic services from Heathrow until spring, 2009, but is clearly keeping its slot powder dry while it absorbs the mammoth task of integrating newly-acquired Bmed into its fleet and route structure.
”We have deferred our decision, effectively until 2009, mainly because of the Bmed integration ” we have an awful lot to do with 16 new routes,” added Bye, although noting tellingly: ”We are looking at what will happen in the market place ” we don”t want to jump in with both feet.”
And the deputy CEO conceded that the speed with which the Open Skies deal was concluded had taken the airline somewhat by surprise, given the length of previous talks. ”We had assumed that Open Skies in 2007 was unrealistic given the years of negotiations and resistance, particularly in the UK,” he said.
”If we had known that Open Skies was coming, we might have thought differently about Bmed, but we were left with an embarrassment of opportunities. For an organisation of our size, it doesn”t make sense to attack everything all the time.”
Bye also expressed himself satisfied with the current crop of three Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with a further five to come on stream and added that the airline was ”not ready” to make a decision on any next generation aircraft.